General Aztecs Maya Tocuaro Kids Contact 23 Nov 2017/8 Flint
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Aztecs crying, Florentine Codex Book 1

A cry for help...

The Aztecs often wept - much more than the Spanish in the 16th. century and much more than we do today. They engaged in ‘ritual weeping’. (Written/compiled by Ian Mursell/Mexicolore)

Group of weeping Aztecs, Florentine Codex Book 1
Group of weeping Aztecs, Florentine Codex Book 1 (Click on image to enlarge)

Weeping and asking something of someone often went hand in hand; it gave added drama to the scene and made it more effective. Equally, a provincial ruler would cry in front of the emperor when requesting his aid, just as a commoner would cry in front of a judge in a trial or tribunal. In the 16th. century it was common for Aztecs to cry before Spanish priests when asking for baptism.

At the same time, tears and sobs flowed freely when giving thanks for something special - the bestowing of land on a family group for instance. When the nation was under threat - or worse, when the army had to admit defeat - the weeping must have reached levels almost of mass hysteria. Individual tears shed by children in particular were powerful symbols for rain, a form of ‘fair exchange’ when offered to the rain god Tlaloc at appropriate times in the farming/festive year. It was considered a good omen if babies sacrificed for Tlaloc were crying their hearts out at the moment of sacrifice...

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